Some parents cite teenagers as being the reason behind their grey hair- and I totally understand where they are coming from. However, it doesn’t explain why people without kids, or those who are only teenagers themselves, get grey hair (perhaps parents are the reason for that?).
Scientists blame a number of factors for this phenomenon — stress, anxiety, nutritional deficiencies, genetics and prolonged exposure to extreme hot or cold weather. Although some people openly embrace, their ‘graceful’ greys, others (like me) are simply traumatised by the prospect of premature ageing. Commercial dyes are one solution, but an expensive and damaging one. But fear not because there are ways of slowing down, if not completely stopping — in some cases even reversing — the early onset of these ghastly greys. Why not give these natural alternatives a shot before resorting to artificial dyes? The remedies below all promote melanin production, improving the chances of new hair growing healthy, shiny and black!
Coconut oil concoction: Simmer ½ cup curry leaves (curry patta) and ½ cup dried Indian gooseberry (aamla) in ½ cup coconut oil on medium to low heat until all the solid ingredients are charred. Cool and strain the oil. Massage into the scalp and leave on for at least 20 minutes before washing out. We’ve been using this ‘oil’ in our home for a while with amazing results!
Sun dried gourd (Turai), presoaked in coconut oil for a few hours, may also be charred in the same manner for this effect. This is also very effective against hairfall.
Fenugreek hair mask: Grind 4 tbsp fenugreek (methi daana) and 4 tbsp sesame seeds (til) and store in a jar. In a separate jar, put ½ cup each of almond oil and coconut oil. Combine 1 leveled tsp of the ground spices with 1 or 2 tbsp of the mixed oils. Massage into scalp. Leave for 10-20 minutes, and wash out. Use every alternative day. This hair mask is excellent for treating dandruff and hairfall too.
Amazing aamla: Combine 1 tbsp Indian gooseberry (aamla) juice, 1 tsp lime juice, 2 tbsp almond oil and 2 tbsp coconut oil. Massage into scalp and leave overnight (or a minimum of 45 minutes) before washing out. Leftovers must be refrigerated. Remember to wear a shower cap (a plastic bag or cling film works just fine too) to avoid staining your pillow.
Massage ghee (not oil) into your scalp regularly before washing. Take it orally too for better results. Make sure to use the real thing, made from cow milk and not a synthetic substitute.
Peel and chop (or grate) an onion and place in a muslin cloth to wring out its juice. Apply onto the scalp and leave for at least 30 minutes. This is a great remedy for baldness, when applied and massaged into bald patches.
Neem oil, or crushed neem leaves mixed with your choice of oil (almond, coconut, mustard etc), and applied to the scalp is a great for premature greying, falling hair, baldness, and other scalp infections. It’s also a safe and effective treatment for getting rid of lice — tried and tested on my own kids.
Do the following to strengthen your hair from within:
• Mix ½ cup honey and ½ cup grated ginger (adrak) and store in an airtight container. Take 1 spoon of this every morning.
• Enrich your diet with foods high in B vitamins (or take a supplement) like wheat, oats, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Results are visible within one month. This is also a tried and tested formula by yours truly!
• Eat 5 or 6 fresh curry leaves every day. Plant it in your home — it takes very little maintenance and you’ll always have a ready supply of fresh, crunchy, curry leaves for your culinary needs and all of its medicinal uses.
• Drink Aamla juice every day. This will prevent both premature greying and ageing (and give all those cosmetics companies a run for their money).
Use these remedies regularly to maintain your hair’s natural colour, health and shine. Many of them give additional benefits like promoting hair growth, clearing up dandruff and curbing hair fall. If you have allergies to any of the ingredients, do a patch test to check if your body tolerates external application of that ingredient.
Find the Fountain of Youth in Aamla juice!
Remove the seeds from 5 fresh Aamla fruits, place in a grinder or blender with 1 glass of water and blend really well. Strain the mixture through a piece of muslin (malmal cloth) and add sugar— you can even add honey or salt— to make it palatable. Consume the juice as soon as possible because it won’t stay fresh beyond a couple of days.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, December 11th, 2011.